Pension Change Puts the Burden on the Worker
New York Times (04/05/02) Vol. 18, No. 1 p.A1; Wyatt, Edward

Pension researchers say that American workers now put more money into pension and retirement savings plans than do the companies they work for. Decades ago, the employers alone financed the retirement savings of their workers, but now plans like 401(k)s are financed mostly by employees. Researchers explain that the new-style plans lack protection for retirees if the company goes bankrupt. Enron and other troubled companies have focused attention on the vulnerability of new retirement plans, researchers add. Despite the fact that Americans have saved very little, they continue to be optimistic about retiring; researchers say that less than two-thirds of all working Americans are employed by companies that sponsor a retirement plan, and only 52 percent of all employees participate in retirement or pension plans. The Employee Benefit Research Institute said that 58 percent of Americans were behind schedule in planning and saving for retirement, and more than half expected their Social Security benefits to begin years before they retire. Yet, since the Enron scandal, some Americans have begun to question their plans for the future; Michael Salemi, 40, general manager of a sleep disorder clinic in California, says that he has little faith in Social Security and has been paying more attention to his retirement accounts. Congress and the administration are preparing to take up the subject in coming weeks, but there is considerable doubt that any major changes will take place.

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